Employment Trends in Singapore: Employment sees a rise in Singapore during the Q4 despite Omicron, non-resident employment recovered

January 31, 2022

“Singapore’s labour market continues to recover, with total employment expanding in the last three months or 2021 despite the outbreak of the Omicron variant, as the number on non – resident workers employed grew for the first time in two years.”

Most of the IT, ITES, and BANKING sectors created a huge talent capacity and capability planning to meet their current and future skills. Large corporates started hiring big time despite Great Resignation, one is to backfill 30 to 40% of their attrition backfill and increase hiring by 25 to 30% for their new business growth.

The unemployment situation also improved, putting Singapore on track for unemployment rates to decline to pre-pandemic levels in the months ahead, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The ministry added: “We expect the labour market to continue to improve in 2022, driven by an overall easing in domestic Covid-19 restrictions and the resumption of international travel. However, recovery to a pre-Covid state continues to be uneven across sectors, and uncertainty remains over the trajectory of the virus.”

According to advance estimates, total employment for 2021 had rebounded after the sharp contraction the year before. In the fourth quarter alone, total employment excluding migrant domestic workers grew substantially by 47,400.

This was the result of stronger resident employment growth and a smaller non-resident employment decline in 2021, said MOM.

In December, the unemployment situation also continued to improve, although annual rates remained above pre-pandemic levels. Overall unemployment rates fell to 2.4 per cent in December from 2.5 per cent the month before.

The full-year unemployment rate dropped to 2.6 per cent overall, from 3 percent before. But this is still above pre-Covid levels, MOM noted.

Retrenchments also stayed low in the fourth quarter, and the number of people laid off in 2021 dropped significantly from 2020 – from 26,110 in 2020 to 7,820 in 2021.

MOM said the majority of layoffs in 2021 were due to reorganization or restructuring rather than a recession or business downturn.

“Over the year, retrenchments had declined considerably across construction, manufacturing, and services,” MOM said.

The services sector showed the most improvement after a sizeable number of layoffs in 2020 due to the consumer-facing and tourism-related industries bearing the brunt of the pandemic then.

Part of the increase in resident employment reflects seasonal hiring due to the year-end peak period in the food and beverages services and retail sectors, MOM said. Employment grew in these sectors for the first time after consecutive quarters of declines.

Resident employment also rose steadily in outward-oriented sectors such as information and communications, as well as financial services. This is driven by the strong demand for digital solutions and games and software publishing activities.

Meanwhile, there was a considerable increase in non-resident employment for the construction sector. This was in part due to the resumption of entry approvals for fully vaccinated workers for the construction, marine shipyard and process sector to enter the country from early November, MOM noted.

The non-resident workforce in other sectors was relatively flat, after consecutive quarters of decline.

The ministry said that adopting a risk-managed approach in border control measures has allowed the non-resident workforce to rebound to a small degree after two years of sharp decline.

But the growth in non-resident employment at the end of the year could not make up for the declines in the first three quarters.

Still, with a smaller non-resident decline and faster growth in resident employment, MOM expects a rebound of 40,800 in total employment for 2021, compared with the contraction of 166,600 in 2020.

“We expect the non-resident workforce numbers to recover further in 2022,” it added.

As for the resident workforce, MOM noted that overall resident employment grew much quicker than in 2020 and unemployment rates were steadily decreasing. “The Government and our tripartite partners will continue to support our workers and businesses, so that we can achieve labour market recovery as the economy and businesses restructure,” MOM said.

Source: The Straits Times & GWFM Research ASEAN

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